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Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 1:00 am
Location: Michigan

Newbie with compost questions

Nice Site!!! Never thought I'd get into gardening, but this year was a year of change. I left my condo in the city for a house in a wooded subdivision that had been untended for many years.

First I had to fix up the outside with LIMITED FUNDS so the neighbors woudn't hate me! Started with some flowers my friends parted out and a couple trips to the local nursery, now I am unstoppable! To he** with the inside, I say! I want lush color and greenery, I want fresh herbs and beauty, I want fragrance and interest and texture. But I HAVENT GOT A CLUE AS TO WHAT I AM DOING!!!

I know I want to compost, so I bought a compost bin. Haven't put it together yet, but have been saving my kitchen scraps in paper bags and keeping my weeds and leaves piled up behind the garage. I notice I have some raccoons, skunks and the like, so I think a bin is most appropriate, but I just don't know where to start with the composting. Like, once I have compost, how do I get it out and what do I do with it? I am a single city slicker trying to wing it here. Do I really need to buy worms? don't they just come? Are the brown paper grocery bags I am saving my veggie scraps in compostable? Can I compost dryer sheets? Oy! What have I gotten myself into?

Also, I am having a bush removed, it is big and shapeless and rather picky -- can it be composted? Will I have to cut it up a lot? Or can I throw it behind the garage and wait a few years? Ok, thats all I got. Thanks!!!

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Super Green Thumb
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Hi Zelda -- Welcome to the forum! glad you found us! I took the liberty of moving your introductory post to the compost forum, since that's what your questions were about. We've got a number of regulars here who are really expert on compost; wanted to be sure they saw your questions. I'll make a start and then I expect some others will chime in.

Get something built! I can't imagine you can keep kitchen scraps in paper bags for very long, the bags do start breaking down. Which is a clue that yes you can put your bags in the compost pile. Do read the sticky at the top of this forum on greens and browns. The bags are a good brown for the pile.

How you get the compost out, depends on what kind of bin you have. The ones that look basically something like this:

[url=https://www.target.com/gp/detail.html/178-2784919-4221865?ASIN=B001D4OS0U&AFID=Froogle&LNM=B001D4OS0U%7CGarden_Compost_Bin&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=B001D4OS0U&ref=tgt_adv_XSG10001]Garden Compost Bin[/url]

usually have a door at the bottom. After a few months you can just pull finished compost out from the bottom.

The tumbler varieties are basically batch composters. You load it up with the stuff you've been saving up, tumble it for a few weeks (so they say, I've never tried one) until the compost is finished and then dump the whole thing out and start over.

What you do with it is mix it in to your soil. If you are tilling up a new bed spread it out and till it in. If you are planting put some in your planting hole and trowel it in a bit. If everything is planted already, just spread some on top of the ground for mulch and trowel it in a bit. But unless you have a tumbler, what to do with your compost isn't going to be your problem until spring.

If you have a regular bin like the picture and it sits on the ground, you don't have to buy worms, they will come. If you have a tumbler or something else that doesn't touch the ground it would be good to throw a few handfuls of soil in with the other compostables. If you can find a couple earthworms while you are digging up soil that would be good. Or it would be a good chance to meet some neighbors: Hi I'm your new next door neighbor, can I borrow a cup of earthworms! :)

Your bush doesn't go in the compost pile unless you can run it through a chipper/shredder first, but you can start a separate brush pile and it will break down over a period of years. In the meantime it makes nice critter habitat. I also use my brush pile as a source of kindling for the fire pit... a firepit makes a wonderful addition to a garden and they are pretty cheap these days. Haven't used mine much this year, because it's been raining all the time and even if it stops for a minute, everything burnable is so soaked... Anyway, woops I got off the topic of compost!

I don't think dryer sheets are compostable, they are impregnated with chemicals.

What you have gotten yourself into is a wonderful hobby that will bring you joy for years to come, while helping turn your little neglected piece of earth into a beautiful living biosphere. Once you have the results of seeing your kitchen scraps and weeds turn into rich dark earth and then flowers and veggies, I believe you will be hooked, like the rest of us here! :) Welcome, welcome!

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Hey I have no idea either hi! I am excited though.

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Can someone please provide a link or reference to an old thread maybe where the different type of bin options are discussed and maybe best places to purchase bins from? I am searching old threads and not turning up the exact answers I am looking for.

Super Green Thumb
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Please look at this one. I found it using "Search the Forum" and the phrase

types of compost bins

as my search criterion.



Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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Location: Bishop, CA

Hello Zelda - Welcome!
I went with the cheap compost set-up. Pallets.
Best to get identical pallets for a nice uniform bin.
Here is my mix of browns and greens
Leaves, Horse hockey, sawdust, gopher tailings, coffee grounds, kitchen scrapes and flower clippings (not shown)
My mixing method.
The mixed mix.
A happy garden. (and tired dog)

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Super Green Thumb
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Nice photo sequence, Skian. And very creative, of all the long list of things I have seen people report using in their compost piles, I don't think I have ever seen gopher tailings mentioned before. Do the tailings contain gopher poo?

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I'm not sure about the gopher poo. I have always added alittle dirt to the mix of my compost ingredients. I figured the gopher tailing is pretty weed free.

Greener Thumb
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How about actual gopher tails? :P Those would be green I suppose. Even the brown ones.

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How about actual gopher tails?
They go into the BSF system. :wink:

No gophers here.


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bin options

A good site for good, easy to read info on bin options and how to make and what to do with compost:


About the dryer sheets: I won't compost anything with an artificial scent.

I think rainbowgardener covered about everything else

Green Mantis
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Great set of pictures, definately explains it well.!! Nice compost too, I've never heard of gopher tailings either, but if they have dug it up, it would be well worked that's for sure. Gives us hope for spring! :)

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